Following the completion of Phase I, East Palo Alto has focused on implementing Phase II and III of the overall Cooley Landing Vision Plan. Phase II includes upgrades to the access road, parking lot, and the turnaround at Cooley Landing. The scope of work also includes utilities, curbs, and additional landscaping. For safety reasons, access to Cooley Landing and the southern area of Ravenswood Open Space Preserve will be limited during construction, which starts at the end of September and is expected to last until early spring. East Palo Alto will reopen the Preserve after work within the entrance area is complete.
Location and Jurisdiction
Cooley Landing is a peninsula, composed of three parcels located at the eastern end of Bay Road in the City of East Palo Alto. The District owns two of the three parcels -- a 25-acre parcel to the north and the 15.7-acre parcel to the south -- as part of Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Purchased by the District in 1980 before the incorporation of the City in 1983, the Preserve falls within the jurisdictional boundary of the City of Menlo Park.
The third parcel at Cooley Landing belongs to the City of East Palo Alto (Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) gifted the land in 2006) and is located within the jurisdictional boundary of East Palo Alto.
Further to the south lies the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, which is located within the jurisdictional boundary of East Palo Alto and known for the highest
concentration of the endangered clapper rail in the world.
City leaders and residents have long had an interest in opening Cooley Landing to the public for low intensity recreation, education, and conservation that respect the natural and historic integrity of the site.
2013 - In preparation for construction in the fall, consultants hired by East Palo Alto will be working on engineering drawings for the access road and on planting plans for the park during the summer. The planting will use only native plants adapted to the climate and to soil conditions next to the Bay.
The Education Center building will be designed over the next year: construction will follow in the fall of 2014. The City Council is expected to decide on renovation or replacement of the existing boathouse in late summer.
Update September 2013 – Design drawings for Phase II were completed in the summer and bid out in the fall. Construction at the site begins at the end of September and is expected to continue through early spring next year. The project entails upgrading and paving the access road and parking lot; installing utilities and curbs; and additional landscaping. Access to the Preserve and Cooley Landing will be limited when the contractor is actively working within the entrance area of the Preserve. Safety is paramount, but East Palo Alto hopes to reopen access to the Preserve as soon as possible to allow visitors to access the trail to the north and Palo Alto Baylands to the south. Cooley Landing will remain closed throughout the construction period. If access to the Preserve is reestablished during construction, visitors are asked to park on Bay Road outside the Preserve gate and walk into the Preserve.
East Palo Alto has also hired Fog Studio to begin the design for the new nature education center, which is part of Phase III of the Vision Plan. Construction is anticipated to start next fall.
2012 - The City finished the design and construction of Phase 1, which included site remediation, trail access, road improvements, some parking, benches, and a picnic area. The East Palo Alto community celebrated the "soft" grand opening of Cooley Landing Park - Phase 1 on July 21, 2012. Contractors completed final punchlist items through the end of summer, and the City officially opened the Park in October. The City will continue with construction documents for the remaining phases of work.
2011 - The MND was certified by East Palo Alto's City Council on February 15, 2011. Construction documents for Phase 1 have been completed and permitting is nearing completion. On July 25, 2011, Menlo Park's Planning Commission voted unanimously to issue a conditional use permit for the parcels located within the jurisdiction of Menlo Park. On July 27, the District's Board also approved amendments to the Partnership Agreement and to the Preserve's Comprehensive Use and Management Plan that will allow for the construction of Phase 1. The City's goal is to bid the project later this summer, start remediation work this fall, and finish Phase 1 by summer 2012.
2010 - District and City staffs signed a Partnership Agreement describing roles and responsibilities and the anticipated timeframes for Project development. Through an extensive public process, the City prepared a Vision Plan for the site, which the City Council and the District’s Board supported that summer as the Project Description to use for the environmental review process. The City’s Initial Study (IS) and Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) were released in December.
2009 - Lily Lee, the new Cooley Landing project manager on loan from the US EPA until March 2011 and funded by a Packard Foundation grant, contacted the District. Since then, City and District staffs, including the City Manager and District General Manager, have discussed the City’s goals and the level of potential District staff involvement in the project.
With District staff input, the City issued a Request for Proposals/Qualifications (RFP/Q) in August 2009 for design services to further the project’s design process. The City contracted with a consultant team later that fall.
2007 - The City and District were briefly in contact, resulting in a District letter that confirmed its collaborative intent and commitment to working with the City. The Cooley Landing project manager’s contract at the City ended, placing the project on hold.
2006 - 2007 - The City conducted a series of technical studies funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to ascertain what regulatory issues would face the project.
2005 - The City presented the conceptual design plans at community meetings. The City Council and the community both gravitated towards the lower impact designs, which focused on more passive uses on the peninsula.
2004 - Stakeholder meetings, which included District staff, focused on the type of uses deemed conceptually acceptable for the site.
2003 - The City hired a design consultant and held a study session and a series of community workshops to prepare conceptual designs for Cooley Landing. Three conceptual design plans were prepared showing increasing intensities of use.